Prithviraj Sukumaran has a knack for selecting unique scripts and has been successful in most cases. The trailer of Nine (9 The film) was very intriguing and kept you guessing what the film was all about. Nine is directed by Jenuse Mohammad (last film “100 days of Love” which was released in 2015).
The films starts off in 1990 and we are shown a father (Prithviraj) and son watching a solar eclipse using box pinhole projector (cardboard) and the father explaining the science behind such natural phenomenon’s. This is followed by a scene where the son gives a letter to one teacher in his school addressed to one Dr Inayat Khan. Cut to the present, the son grows up to become an astrophysicist Albert Lewis who lives with his son Adam (Master Alok).
The world is getting ready to experience a once in the life time event when a large comet is supposed to pass between Sun and Earth. The comet is large enough that it’s going to affect the electromagnetic field of the earth for around 9 days resulting in a blackout of all electrical and electro-magnetic devices. This also leads to several rumours about extinction of the planet. Amidst all this chaos, Albert is given a job to explore the mystery and superstition behind such events, as believed by many tribes and spiritual yogis living in Himalayas. He moves there along with his hand-picked team and his son for some days to study the same. On the day the comet passes through the earth, he meets up with Eva (Wamiqa Gabbi) and things change from there on.
The first half keeps you on the edge of the seat. You can’t even categorize the film in any genre until then. There are several thrilling moments and the backdrop of the scientific event keeps you guessing throughout. The second half has enough twists and thrilling moments too. But Jenuse loses the plot towards the end. What starts off as a scientific fiction turns into a horror thriller and later into a psychological conflict. The directors seems to have presented his imagination in the best possible way and we have to appreciate him for attempting such a film, which we could only imagine in Hollywood.
Prithvhiraj has a tailor made role and he portrays the character perfectly. However, you just can’t avoid comparison to his earlier movies like “Ezra” or even “Adam Joan”, where he is helpless and tries to save his family. Wamiqa Gabbi is a real find. She has a challenging role and her eyes convey most of the emotions required. Technical aspects are top-notch. Most of the film is shot in the dark as the script demands and cinematography plays a big role. The shots covering Himalayan ranges are stunning. The film also has a good amount of CG work which looks very believable. Background score by Sekhar Menon is apt. At two and half hours, its long and some trimming in the second half would have made it more engaging.
The films dwells on the superstitions and mysteries surrounding the astronomical events like eclipse or comets falling through the sky etc. While the premise is new, the story unexplored in Malayalam cinema or even Indian cinema yet, however you get a sense of dejavu in some scenes due to the horror template. Further the scientific fiction takes a back seat in the second half, which honestly disappoints you. In the end, you are still left without answers for several questions – both logical and illogical. The director lets the audience to analyse and arrive at the conclusion or probably they dint know how to end the film. This could also serve as a hint for the sequel.
Inspite of its glitches, Nine is a laudable attempt from Jenuse Mohammad. It has its thrills and keeps you engaged for a large part.
Rating – 3.5/5